Therese has reiterated the importance of using level crossings safely, after a teenage girl was involved in a near miss at Halesworth.
Therese's message followed a visit to the level crossing, which was the scene of a near miss on Saturday 20 January this year. A driver was forced to apply the emergency break to avoid potentially hitting a teenage girl who had started to use the crossing, just as the train was starting to move.
The crossing at Halesworth, which is served by trains on the East Suffolk Line between Ipswich and Lowestoft, is rated by Network Rail as one of the most high risk in the country, following repeated reports of misuse in recent years.
At the visit on Friday 26 January, Dr Coffey was joined by Network Rail's route level crossing manager Dan Fisk, in which they discussed the recent incident and spoke to residents about the need to use the crossing safely.
In order to encourage safe use of the crossing, fencing and gates were installed last year at the end of the station platforms. These act as a barrier between pedestrians and the railway, and provide a timely reminder to people to stop, look and listen for trains before they cross. A sign attached to the gates provides advice about how to use the crossing safely:
Cross only if there are no trains in either platform and check no trains are approaching.
Get off your bike before crossing and stick to the crossing and off the track
Always keep moving. Don't stop on the crossing.
Dan Fisk, Network Rail's route level crossing manager for Anglia, said: "Our top priority at Halesworth is the safety of people using the crossing. It was useful to explain how the repeated reports of misuse make the crossing one of the highest risk across the country and what action can be taken to reduce this risk. We will continue to raise awareness of the need to use the crossing safely – which means not crossing while a train is in the platform and always dismounting from bicycles. However if the current issues continue, we will have to carefully consider the crossing's future."
Therese said: "I know how much people in Halesworth value the crossing at the station, which is why I campaigned to keep it open. However, I recognise that Network Rail needs to ensure public safety so I was concerned to hear of the recent near miss. I still think clearer signage will help. Network Rail will be stepping up their efforts to encourage people to use the crossing safely and I strongly encourage people to take this advice, so that people who currently use the crossing safely can continue to do so."
More information about staying safe at level crossings is available at www.networkrail.co.uk/levelcrossings
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